al_25-Andy_0149.jpgI got my first taste of the hairstylist life at the age of 10, when I worked at my sister’s salon for a week in Santa Cruz, California. I instantly knew that doing hair was my passion, and when I was 13 she hired me to be her assistant/salon receptionist/housekeeper.

Turning 16 couldn’t come soon enough — I wanted to follow in my sister’s footsteps and start the Regional Occupational Program in high school, then attend beauty school. But even before I went to beauty school (I started at 16, the youngest age that they accepted), I was working with a photographer to build my portfolio. It was a good thing, because not only did I use it to graduate from school early, but it also helped me book my first freelance gig.

My favorite part of beauty school was working on the clientele — who were all little old ladies. This is where I learned how to do wet sets, which have been a great asset throughout my career. Though they’re not as popular now, knowing this technique is the foundation to great hairstyling.

Coming Up
My big break was when I was 18 and went to Los Angeles to interview at Privé Salon. My good friend was working there and had me come up to check it out, and I got the job! It gave me a chance to work with celebrities like Britney Spears, Jenny McCarthy, and Courteney Cox. This is where I became a celebrity cutter of hair, and began my journey to becoming a celebrity hairstylist. There, I also started working with studio head executives and a roster of celeb clients including Lindsay Lohan, Mischa Barton, Nicole Richie, and Sam Ronson.

When these girls’ careers blew up, so did mine. They booked me for the biggest covers, and my looks were in all their paparazzi shots. Word got out. Madonna saw my portfolio with my work on Rebecca Romijn, and we started working together and have been ever since. It was around 2003 or 2004 when I started to become the fashion and editorial hairstylist I am today.

On The Job
Starting out, I was mainly cutting and styling; now, I’m a jack-of-all-trades. My weeks are crazy! I jump from magazine shoots, to styling celebrities for music videos, to behind the chair at the salon. I was on tour with Madonna since July 2015 — I just returned this past month. Touring is the most stable part of my job because, normally, my life is a roller coaster.

I’ve met a lot of interesting and exciting creative people. Tina Turner’s life story inspired me. Madonna inspired me to believe in myself. I remember watching Truth or Dare before I met her. Her message helped me be fearless and go after my dreams, and know that I could achieve anything. So it’s not a surprise that I later became her hairstylist.

It’s All About Timing…
The craziest situations are when I have to book jobs back-to-back with no breathing room and little time to prep — something always seems to go wrong. One time, I was shooting a music video for Fergie in L.A. and had to go straight to the airport to go shoot V magazine for Madonna in New York. There was no room for error, but my flight was cancelled. As a repercussion, I had no time to prep for a Steven Klein production that required a ton of wig options. My hotel room turned into a hair studio, with myself and my assistants working all day and all night. No sleep and crazy hours.

Read More at Refinery29

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